Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a sport played between two teams of eleven players with a spherical ball. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 nations, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by getting the ball into the opposing goal.
The goalkeepers are the only players allowed to touch the ball with their hands or arms while it is in play and only in their penalty area. Outfield players mostly use their feet to strike or pass the ball, but may also use their head or torso to do so instead. The team that scores the most goals by the end of the match wins. If the score is level at the end of the game, either a draw is declared or the game goes into extra time and/or a penalty shootout depending on the format of the competition. The Laws of the Game were originally codified in England by The Football Association in 1863. Association football is governed internationally by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA; French:Fédération Internationale de Football Association), which organises World Cups for both men and women every four years.
A football, soccer ball, or association football ball is the ball used in the sport of association football. The name of the ball varies according to whether the sport is called "football", "soccer", or "association football". The ball's spherical shape, as well as its size, weight, and material composition, are specified by Law 2 of the Laws of the Game maintained by the International Football Association Board. Additional, more stringent, standards are specified by FIFA and subordinate governing bodies for the balls used in the competitions they sanction.
Early footballs began as animal bladders or stomachs that would easily fall apart if kicked too much. Improvements became possible in the 19th century with the introduction of rubber and discoveries of Vulcanization by Charles Goodyear. The modern 32-panel ball design was developed in 1962 by Eigil Nielsen, and technological research continues today to develop footballs with improved performance.
In 1863, the first specifications for footballs were laid down by the Football Association. Previous to this, footballs were made out of inflated leather, with later leather coverings to help footballs maintain their shapes. In 1872 the specifications were revised, and these rules have been left essentially unchanged as defined by the International Football Association Board. Differences in footballs created since this rule came into effect have been to do with the material used in their creation.
Of the 45 nationalFIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) affiliates in which English is an official or primary language, 43 use football in their organisations' official names (Canada and the United States use soccer). Soccer is the prevailing term for association football in the U.S. and Canada, where other codes of football are dominant. In 2005, Australia's association football governing body changed its name from soccer to football to align with the general international usage of the term. In 2006, New Zealand decided to follow suit.